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Queensland authorities shut down Sunshine Coast entertainment venue over ‘repeated’ health breaches

Queensland authorities shut down Sunshine Coast entertainment venue over ‘repeated’ health breaches
June 15, 2021

Health authorities in Queensland have shut down the NightQuarter entertainment precinct on the Sunshine Coast, saying there had been “repeated breaches” of Coronavirus restrictions at the venue.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Saturday the Department had worked with the operators of NightQuarter for “several months in an attempt to help them continue operating in accordance with the Queensland Public Health Directions”.

The health breach was said to be in relation to events held at the venue, located in the Stockland Birtinya Shopping Centre, on 4th and 5th June.

As reported by The Brisbane Times, Dr Young stated “however, there have been repeated breaches of these directions and several complaints by members of the community in relation to occupant density and physical distancing requirements during events.

“To ensure the safety of their patrons and the broader community, there was no choice but to issue a public health order requiring the main stage area to close.”

Dr Young said the closure was effective until the end of the declared public health emergency or until additional controls, approved by Queensland Health, are implemented to reduce the public health risk.

She went on to say “the risk of COVID-19 transmission in confined spaces such as stage and dance areas is far greater than the risk at open-air venues like sporting stadiums, which are also required to comply with public health directions.”

NightQuarter said that about 8.30pm on Friday, Queensland Police and Queensland Health officers served notice claiming the venue posed an unacceptable risk to public health and ordering it to close immediately.

The closure meant the cancellation of live performances on Saturday, with the directive officially coming into effect at midday, less than 24 hours after the notice was issued.

However, NightQuarter owner Michelle Christou questioned the closure occurring in the same week Queensland hosted the State of Origin with a capacity crowd of 30,000 and no restrictions on numbers, adding it was disappointing for the music industry to face such “blatant double standards”.

Christou told The Brisbane Times “NightQuarter is of the view that the serving of the notice by Queensland Health (without sufficient time to respond) is an abuse of process and sets a dangerous precedent for other live music venues.

“This undemocratic and hypocritical application of restrictions on the music industry should be of concern to every citizen that enjoys live music.”

NightQuarter said the concerts in question had been managed in accordance with the venue’s COVIDSafe plan.

Christou added “the standing event had been modified to fixed allocated seating after consultation with Queensland Health in April, and it was managed with detailed briefings with staff and security, signage, and event management plans.

“This sets a dangerous precedent for the live music industry with venues across Australia, already struggling with reduced capacity and inconsistently enforced restrictions.”

Image: NightQuarter on the Sunshine Coast has been shut down by health authorities. Credit: NightQuarter/ Michelle Christou.

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